Downer has released an industry discussion paper recommending greater collaboration between large companies and small-to-medium sized businesses to build global supply chain opportunities for Victorian manufacturers and support long-term economic development.

The industry discussion paper, Building a globally competitive SME sector for Victoria, is the result of a Downer state-wide supplier engagement initiative.

The ICN-sponsored Doing Business with Downer supplier briefings attracted more than 500 SMEs from metropolitan Melbourne, Bendigo and Ballarat, and culminated in an industry roundtable held in Melbourne.

“With 130 years of experience delivering transport and infrastructure solutions for Victoria and employing more than 4,000 Victorians, Downer plays a key role in supporting the realisation of the Victorian Government’s economic vision of a sustainable export-based manufacturing industry,” said Michael Miller, CEO Downer Rail.

“As a leading primary industry contractor, or ‘Prime’, we understand our responsibilities to build local capability and foster innovation through supply chain collaboration.“Downer is taking a leadership role in encouraging others in the industry to embrace our future-focused business model, centred on investing in industry capability.”

Victorian Assistant Treasurer Daniel Mulino met Mr Miller to discuss the paper’s industry recommendations and formally accept the paper on behalf of the Victorian State Government.

Mr Miller said he welcomed the Andrews Labor Government’s commitment to support industry transition following the decline of Victoria’s automotive sector. “But Governments can only do so much,” Mr Miller said. “Industry must look beyond ‘handouts’ or special treatment and adopt business models and approaches to build long-term sustainability.

“Industry needs to invest in Victoria’s skill base through apprenticeship and graduate programs, reward and support innovation by our suppliers, and maximise export opportunities by providing SMEs with exposure and access to global supply chains. “This is the Downer way. Our example demonstrates this can be done.”

The discussion paper’s key recommendations are:

  • Supporting greater industry openness and collaboration between Primes and SMEs.
  • Investing in initiatives to develop a more capable and globally competitive SME workforce.
  • Increasing the impact of engagement with supply chains by placing greater emphasis on R&D in partnerships.
  • Maximising export opportunities for Victoria’s globally competitive advanced engineering capability by providing exposure and access to global supply chains.

Download the Building a Globally Competitive SME Sector for Victoria (PDF)